***** To join INSNA, visit http://www.insna.org ***** Loet: Do you really believe (like most STS scholars) that contexts are so important? For example, can you discover from this message whether it was written on a laptop or a desktop, on a PC or a Macintosh? If you would not know, could you recognize my age or gender from it? No: this is STS rubbish. (It enables them to legitimate the writing of thick histories.) Contexts matter only if they are structural. For example, university-industry relations may matter in pharmaceutical research or in the food industry. But it would not matter in itself whether I had a brother who was running a company. The crucial question is whether variation is significant. If it is, we may be able to hypothesize structural factors. Ryan: Loet, what troubles me most is change. I cannot understand why we tend to think things are so stable in social science when even a cursory look at history or technology signals so much radical and continual shift in all but the least interesting things (to me). Drawing a line between two things seems almost an outrageous reliance on the static. That sort of networking is starting to look very long in the tooth to this outsider. You suggest citations are somewhat unchanging. I wonder. I wonder when the editors shift if the citations shift--this can be studied journal by journal, let's say. I would personally not be so interested in the larger mix and centeredness as I would the differences--why is Science different than Nature--because of its networks and authors and citation policies, etc. I care less about a global norm for "science" than I do in how constructivism plays out. That is the grail of social understanding, I think. I also think it is more about WHO you are in academia than it is about WHAT you say--that is my "social" context of concern. That is THE network to me. But we do not study those sorts of things because another context does not let us. It is politically incorrect--not uninteresting. That sort of normative resistance to change is a boundary. If I were a network scientist, I would be less interested in context than I would be in inclusion and exclusion and change. Dynamics. Networks aren't good at context. They just aren't. They were intended as discrete mathematics models and those just aren't going to cut it in a stochastic world. Russell Lande does stochastic SNA http://www-biology.ucsd.edu/faculty/lande.html in my opinion. Globalization and cross border networks would be my focus. Why do we still have regional speech accents in the US? That is a network and change problem--not a linguistic one. Why do people believe in "nations." What is one. What is community. Those are SNA problems I'd love to see more of in Connections. Instead I fear people chase easy data. I do it too. We all do. We look for our keys under the lamp. It is our nature. But, then again, that is too broad brush. You and I and all our friends don't do it...we do good science. Why does innovation spawn positive feedback loops? Again, to me, a network problem, if there are such things (and I think there are because we are invested in networks). But what I see in networking is statics. Fascination with fixity. Wrong century for that, IMHO. You are right to criticize STS for wordiness. I tend to eschew labels. Even to call myself a scholar seems old-fashioned. To say I have discipline (in the university sense) is a non sequitur. That is another network problem by the way...why disciplines...who wants them and why? That would be a boundary issue for those who are interested in STS and SNA. If I am right, and organizations are disintegrating, we are in the age of dynamics not statics. The environmentalists and evolutionists are already well along. I fear SNA is playing catch-up. I think SNA worth following because so many smart people care about it. I assume because of that I am misinterpreting it and wrong about its capacity to address "context." Time will tell. _____________________________________________________________________ SOCNET is a service of INSNA, the professional association for social network researchers (http://www.insna.org). To unsubscribe, send an email message to [log in to unmask] containing the line UNSUBSCRIBE SOCNET in the body of the message.